Learning to Dance

Explorations in the Spiritual Life

Date: May 10, 2004

evening

It is cold outside, a chill which reaches deep. The wind has stilled after blowing all the day, a fair breeze swirling the branches and dust. At dusk a mist moved in, a light mist which barely touches the ground.

A couple of things have been on my mind these last few days, well more than a couple, but a couple of things stand out for this setting. Friendship and church, one thought flowed into another, realizing only later how related they are.

I was watching some show, seeing the practical response to needs expressed, the practical help which was offered. Friends are those who are there, who are there more than with just words, who could be absent for a while but show up in a time of need, for an answer beyond one’s own strength. Acquaintances may put in more time, but have less a commitment. They are the ones who point out issues, who judge events or traits, but withhold any interaction. An acquiantance is someone who asks about a problem or issue, giving their opinion on the matter. A friend is someone who helps you overcome, helps you resolve the issue, as well as they can at least, or as well as they are invited.

Whether this is a practical or emotional or intellectual or social problem, friends are there to carry weight, ease the burden, reveal light if light can be shown. Acquaintances are full of advice, but no hands are extended.

Church is much the same way. The purpose of the church, according to the Apostle Paul, no mean authority on the subject, is edification. Read the Scriptures, it’s there. Purpose of the gifts? Edification. In our language, in our era, this has taken on the meaning of encouragement or well wishing, something to lift up another, nice words for the journey. The real meaning has a lot more depth, a lot more reaction. Rather than just being a kind word, it is more akin, very much akin, to the idea of building a house. When we edify, according to the NT, we are to build each other up by actual construction. We don’t just pass along nice words, we make each other better, more efficient, stronger.

Edification, all the gifts, is meant to be a continual process of helping each other become more, become better, become fuller people, reaching past our own limited view into something broader. At every point our goal should be to make another, others, stronger, wiser, more joyful. That is the purpose of the Church, whether in its organizational manifestations or in the more fluid interactions of Christian and Christian. There is no Church if the people are not active in helping each other be more in every way, balancing out the gifts so that one’s weakness is another’s strength.

There is much more to this, a lot more. For now, I just wanted to get out this little bit out.

It’s early, and I’m tired. So, with nothing to keep me up, I’m going to bed, excited about starting again tomorrow.

morning

Strong winds blow, the branches dance, a continual whoosh fills the air. The large oak branch scrapes along the roof, green waves roll by outside. I am pulled into a reverie, lost in a mystical sense, aware of that which is beyond awareness, tapping into those primal parts of my being, which the ancients expressed through worship of nature and of nature’s gods. My heart rejoices, is filled beyond measure, enlarged by a growing soul, though not yet enough to grasp this world. The wind stirs my soul as it stirs the branches, lifting, leading, rustling.

I think thoughts above and beyond this frail present, and am spurred to reach out, reach up, let my soul drift along with the moving air. It is not without reason the Spirit is the same word as wind in many languages. The wind expresses beyond rational expression that which we know to be true, showing us in action, in movement, in palpable sensory experiences that which we perceive through faith. It enlivens if we let it, inspires if we allow it, opens a mind which seeks awareness. Such is wind to me. Wind awakens, stirs, motivates, delights all at once. I want to bathe in its stir, let myself be free in its gentle massage, let it pour out and over and through me.

I stare at the wonders of the wind, and write of the wonders of Christ, feeling all is connected, feeling all is right, feeling that the God who moved through time still moves, still acts, still controls, shaking with gentle and persistent force. If we become light enough, lithe enough we can float with the wind, carried to where it blows, dancing in the freedom it offers, no longer tied to the constraints of a static life. That is the leaping out, leaping off the cliff into the void so we can drift with the wind, and revel in its glorious power. It is the calling of us all, the task of the daring.

There are times in which I feel the stir of the ancients in me, the yearnings and passions which led to pagan gods and practices. These which sought to answer the questions which the world around us raises are answered by the reality of the Triune God, the fullness of reality found in the Three-in-One. Yet in trying to grasp ahold of that, the Church has tamed the reality, squished the fullness into a more approachable box, which the present wind expresses is not enough. We taste of the Divine, yet have no longer the responses or the words to revel in this expression, we are limited by ourselves, and lose the Truth. Our anemic understanding has tamed and sapped what our own spirits want to honor and praise. In fear of mistakes we built a fence around the fullness.

Yet this morning, I take the fullness of Christ, the knowledge of the Divine Father and Spirit, and revel in the wind, joining with my ancestors in feeling the power around us, adding the wisdom of Scripture and Spirit to give this present experiences more accurate names and acclaim. In feeling the wind, I feel God, know God, my heart lifted by the movement, my soul stirred by the activity.

Like water it cleanses and restores my soul, lifting me up out of the muck and mire, to the heights of heaven where I see God. I swim in the ethereal streams, moved by the currents, refreshed along the way, revelling in the freedom of boundless motion, my own efforts a part of a wider work which spurs and leads.

If I just let myself go, release myself into the flow, it would be so wonderful, I could be lost for millenia, delighting in the taste of eternity, dancing with joy beyond measure, experiencing what it is to be within a song.

Only I am restrained, by my own thoughts, my own call. I taste of what is to be and have not yet achieved, for the tasks upon me are not yet releasing me fully. I feel the river move past and know my part is still to settle and focus, contributing in practical ways. The wind is what I seek, but my tasks are to return to this present, to live within time, to draw back my being into the constraints so as to achieve my call, seek the prize.

So, I write, pulling myself back from the reverie, wishing, hoping, praying for that time in which I can let myself be free in ithe strong breeze.

I dance, but cannot dance to the full measure. I am free, but cannot yet fully throw myself into that freedom. I taste of that which is and that which is to come, but have been called to do that which is before me, to be who I am supposed to be, to continue to grow.

And yet, with all of this I realize the measure of a soul enlarged, taking in that which I could not before, feeling the burning excitement of eternity resting within me in an increased way. My eyes open wide, as does my soul.

Other thoughts, other insights, other ponderings of the morning are swept away by the wind, by the epiphany of the moment, by the taste of God, by the sudden sense that all is quite well after all thank you very much.

Words cannot contain the fullness, typed notes cannot begin to express the revelation of mysteries beyond interpretation. I see, feel, know that which is beyond me, around me, within me, but cannot yet even begin to comprehend what it really means.

How does one fit a tempest onto a page, or gather the wind into a container? That is the task I am now at, trying to type as I delight, to express that which is beyond expression, for only eternity itself can encompass its bounds.

I am a boat pulled by its moorings, lines taut as my soul is connected to land and being pulled to sea.

It is my call to focus on present tasks, and so I wander back to this world, praying my soul could someday encompass that which I feel, and translate the words I hear but do not yet understand. To walk in the in-between is the call upon me, tasting of this world and the world to come, the darkness and light of the dawn, the sandy beach and waves of the shore.

I embrace this now, and pray I will someday have the soul to live up to the this call.

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